“Disheartened” Director Of Bureau Of Prisons Calls On Staff To Out Corruption

- Advertisement -


Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Director Michael Carvajal issued an internal announcement to address the ongoing corruption cases that have plagued the agency. In the announcement, Carvajal said, “I am disheartened that I find it necessary to deliver this message. I’m deeply saddened by the behavior prompting me to remind you that we ALL have a responsibility to protect staff and inmates by reporting wrongdoing of any kind, especially misconduct, and we must have the courage to do so.,

- Advertisement -

The BOP has a substantive history of corruption, staff shortages and, recently, delays in implementation of The First Step Act, one of the most sweeping criminal justice reforms in decades.

- Advertisement -

According to an Associated Press article, over the waining weeks of 2021, there were three deaths as a result of inmate-on-inmate violence in high security federal prisons. There were two deaths in January 2022 when a fight among two gangs broke out at USP Beaumont in Texas, leading to a national lockdown of every federal prison. Senator Dick Durbin, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to Fire Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal, saying he has failed to adequately address the myriad crises plaguing the agency. Carvajal announced his retirement in January 2022 and remains director until a new one is named.

In late 2021, the Associated Press reported on the number of corruption cases against BOP employees, writing, “… an investigation has found that the federal Bureau of Prisons, with an annual budget of nearly $8 billion, is a hotbed of abuse, graft and corruption, and has turned a blind eye to employees accused of misconduct.” More recently, a former federal prison chaplain at FCI Dublin pled guilty to having sex with female prisoners at the facility. That guilty plea came four months after Warden Ray J. Garcia was charged with sexually assaulting one inmate, sexually harassing another and storing pictures on his work computer that showed a nude woman prisoner in her cell. The US Senate launched a bi-partisan committee, led by Senators Jon Ossoff and Mike Braun to take a closer look at the BOP to correct the agency’s problems.

BOP chronic understaffing has resulted in officers working large amounts of forced overtime, known as mandating, and non-officer employees including medical staff and counselors being assigned to work as correctional officers under a process called augmentation. AFGE Local 501 president Eric Speirs who works at MDC Miami said that the lack of corrections officers, medical staff and augmenting of existing staff has led to unsafe conditions in Miami and across the country. Spears told me in an interview, “We work in a dangerous environment when the conditions are the best, so you can imagine how trying it is today with a lack of confidence in leadership, tired staff and fear of retaliation for speaking up.,

Help could be on the way to the BOP in the form of money. The US Congress recently passed the FY2022 Omnibus spending bill which included $7,865,000,000 for the salaries and expenses of the Federal Prison System (a $200 million dollar increase over the agency’s requested funding. According to a press release from AFGE National Council President Shane Fausey, the BOP is “expected to hire additional full-time correctional officers in order to reduce the reliance on augmentation and improve staffing beyond mission-critical levels in custodial and all other departments, including medical, counseling, and educational positions.In addition, Fausey said that the BOP shall include with its fiscal year 2023 budget submission a detailed report for each Federal correctional facility at which two or more Federal inmates have died in one calendar year, describing each incident and the role augmentation may have played in exacerbating the inherent dangers present at those locations.

The First Step Act, signed in December 2018, was slow to roll out due to COVID-19, which led to delays in programming being offered to prisoners. The essence of the FSA is that it allowed eligible, minimum and low security inmates to earn credits toward an earlier release from their prison term. In January 2022, thousands of federal prisoners across the country were released from halfway houses and home confinement because of the retroactive nature of FSA. Now, tens of thousands of prisoners, who believe they have earned credits, are awaiting a backlogged BOP to determine when they will be released. Spears told me, “Case managers who should be working to help prisoners are being taken away from their FSA mission by serving meals or making rounds.,

Carvajal’s message encouraged employees to report wrongdoing to the senior staff or other offices such as the Office of Internal Affairs or the Office of the Inspector General, who routinely calls out the mismanagement of the BOP. Carvajal also wants those employees who identify bad behavior to be free to do so without retaliation, saying in the statement, “ The Bureau is committed to providing a safe environment for staff and inmates. Retaliation or harassment toward any staff member or inmate who reported misconduct is strictly prohibited and will not be tolerated – and must be reported.” According to Spears, “People are afraid to speak up for fear of retaliation and those who do, like many local union presidents at AFGE, are often targeted with minor policy infractions as a means of intimidation. It’s a constant battle.Spears sad.

Carvajal statement continued stating that he was concerned about “the recent media attention regarding misconduct in the BOP as being characterized using phrases such as “cover-ups,” “sign of a larger problem” and “toxic culture of sexual abuse.” These phrases are not true characterizations of the vast majority of the staff who work in our facilities across the Nation.” Carvajal could have noted that since his rising to the agency’s highest position in January 2020, those same problems were highlighted in a Houses Subcommittee Independent Investigation and Employee Discipline at the BOP report in 2019. The conclusion of the investigation was that, “discipline and accountability is not equitably applied … For high ranking officers, bad behavior is ignored or covered up on a regular basis, and certain officials who should be investigated can avoid discipline.” Does not look like much has changed.

Maybe Carvajal’s new message about an old problem will lead to some results as he heads out the door … but I doubt it.

,

Credit: www.forbes.com /

- Advertisement -

Stay on top - Get the daily news in your inbox

DMCA / Correction Notice

Recent Articles

Related Stories

Stay on top - Get the daily news in your inbox